From the New York Times:
A military judge on Tuesday found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty of “aiding the enemy” for his release of hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks for publication on the Internet, rejecting the government’s unprecedented effort to bring such a charge in a leak case.
But the judge in the court-martial, Col. Denise R. Lind, convicted Private Manning of six counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and most of the other crimes he was charged with. He faces a theoretical maximum sentence of 136 years in prison, although legal experts said the actual term was likely to be much shorter.
While advocates of open government celebrated his acquittal on the most serious charge, the case still appears destined to stand as a fierce warning to any government employee who is tempted to make public vast numbers of secret documents. Private Manning’s actions lifted a veil on American military and diplomatic activities around the world, and engendered a broad debate over what information should become public, how the government treats leakers, and what happens to those who see themselves as whistle-blowers.
I am not sure if I see PFC Manning as a hero as some do, nor do I see him as a villain. I’m not a psychologist, and even if I was, I wouldn’t try to analyze him from a distance based on the evidence presented. I don’t know if he got duped into doing what he did by the folks at Wikileaks or whether he actually thought he was doing the country some good.
But for whatever reason, the result is probably not what he wanted, either personally or for the country. He probably knew he was going to end up in the stockade and he may have even felt it was worth it. But for all the thousands of documents leaked, how have they changed the course of the wars, the way they are conducted, and the practices of keeping secrets?
Whistleblowers seek to put a stop to things they see happening that are wrong. In the case of PFC Manning, nothing much has changed. And he will have a long time to decide if it was worth it.